Dustin and Sherri Ellington - May 2019 Update
Justo Mwale University (JMU)
Most of the following conversation talk took place before Cyclones Idai and Kenneth hit Mozambique. Thankfully, José’s family was not affected directly, as they live far from the cyclones’ paths, but Mozambique will be in need of prayer and international involvement for a long while.
I’d like to share a conversation with a student from Mozambique, José Bazima. Ever since meeting him, I had been encouraged by José’s thoughtful comments in class and in the Bible study group I facilitate, but I knew I wanted to ask him more questions when he shared a simple song in chapel that really touched my faith. My experience with African Christians has been rich, and their powerful motivation to be of one heart and mind in service to their communities really challenges me. But it seems that only now and then have I heard personal expressions about Jesus, such as loving and serving him who, in the apostle Paul’s words, “loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). That’s something I want for my students as they prepare to be pastors, so their relationship with Jesus Christ inspires and sustains their life of service. Let me share with you some of my conversation with José.
Dustin: José, can you tell me why you chose to sing that song for our JMU community?
José: I chose that song because it’s the song I always sing when I’m alone. I compose many songs, including that one. It’s my favorite of the ones I’ve written. It says, “I love to serve Jesus because he is my Savior, and my life was saved by his blood.”
Dustin: How did you start composing songs?
José: I had the opportunity to participate in workshops on the interpretation of songs when I was young. Through this, I developed skills for composing songs. When I was a leader in the youth fellowship, I wrote songs to teach young people the content of the Christian faith.
Dustin: What do people in Mozambique think of you studying here at JMU in Zambia?
José: My family is so glad – I’m the first one to do further studies, toward a bachelor’s degree. My father and my mother are Christians and elders of the church, so they are happy to see me pursuing this ministry and following the ways that they taught me. And for the church, it’s also very good. The church is expecting that when my wife and I finish this course, we will help there. I was talking recently with our church’s General Secretary and one of the things he told me is: “On your research papers, think about the situation that afflicts our church today.” So, by this statement, I realize that the church is expecting a lot from me.
Dustin: What have you appreciated about your education and experience at Justo Mwale University so far?José: The education is not focused just on the academic but also the devotional side. It prepares people to serve the church. I like that approach very much, bringing head and heart together.
Dustin: Can you tell us more about your dreams and vision for ministry in the future, and how your education at JMU will help you contribute to the church in Mozambique?
José: I will help people in my country by sharing what I’m learning here. Of course, I will do that with the congregation. But it can be done also in other institutions, like our United Seminary of Ricatla in Mozambique.
As we finished our conversation, I asked José if there’s anything he’d like to share with Christians in the U.S.A. who support the ministry of JMU. He replied that he appreciates the hearts of those who pay for his studies.
I feel privileged to get to teach and be blessed by students like José. Please hold Justo Mwale University in your prayers, that God will strengthen all of us who serve here to be faithful stewards of the opportunity we have to train pastors and teachers for Southern and Central Africa.
Sherri and I also appreciate prayers for ourselves, for us to abide in deep relationship with God that sustains us and our ministry. We also appreciate prayers for our sons Clay and Chris, now 21 and 16, as they finish their respective junior years of college and high school and discern what God has next for them. I will be teaching an intensive seminary course in Lebanon May 18-31 and would appreciate prayers for that time of ministry. We also invite you to pray for the three YAVs (Young Adult Volunteers from the PCUSA) in the home stretch of their “year of service for a lifetime of change” here in Zambia, and for Sherri’s final retreat with them in July.
Please know that we are grateful to all of you who support our ministry. Thank you so much for your partnership with us!
Yours in Christ,
Dustin and Sherri Ellington
The Outreach Foundation is seeking $10,000 for support funds for the Ellingtons and $5,500 per student per year for scholarships at Justo Mwale University.Make a gift HERE or by sending a check to our office.